Your Happy People Can Be Silently Sad

Jennie's Snippets, Live

It’s no surprise to those who know me that I can be, most of the time, full of joy. A lot of times I hear from past acquaintances, new strangers, and long-time friends the following words:

” I love your energy!”

“You are just so happy!”

“You brighten the room when you walk in.”

And, I promise, this is not me bragging on myself. There are several people in the world who have this contagious energy they naturally exude. The first celebrity I could think of, as an example that everyone knows, is Robin Williams.

He brightened any one’s room when he was present. Even when thinking of him we easily smile – he was a comedian.

Sadly, in 2014, Robin Williams died by way of suicide.

I remember this event bringing light to an issue that was kept in the dark for some time – noticing the struggles of a individual, and potential signs of depression/disease/struggle, that exist outside of the outward facing appearance.

Many people saw this death as a surprise because Robin Williams rarely, if ever, showed signs of struggle to the outward facing public.

But, being who I am, I can closely relate to him, and what happened. I’m sure many of the happiest people in your life feel similarly.

Being labeled the “joyful,” “happy,” “brighten the room” person comes with a weight no one realizes.

The world can be a dark and dim place, and if we, the happy people, can bring some form of light into it, to show the world that light exists, then we are going to do just that. Especially as a follower of Christ.

And, if we struggle, we normally don’t expose it because many people rely on us to brighten even the darkest of days.

When Robin Williams died I was 20 years old. I was struggling with keeping up this happy façade when I wasn’t actually very happy. I wasn’t depressed or suicidal, at all, but I felt like I had to put my “happy” face on 24/7.

That’s when this very young children’s pastor came up to me, just a few days after the death of Robin Williams, and asked me, “Are you okay?”

My initial response was, “Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

It’s not like I ever showed him my sad or struggling side!

He went on to explain that I appeared the same way as Robin Williams. I’m always happy and never truly exposing a sad or struggling side. He wanted to check on me, and make sure that I wasn’t secretly struggling with anything.

Let me tell you – I was taken aback. BUT, I also appreciated it so much because no one ever asked me if I was okay. I always supported every one else, loved on every one else, and cared for every one else that I never checked on MYSELF.

When that conversation ended I was moved to build relationships that I could trust and lean on for myself.

I wouldn’t put up this façade, but be real and broken in front of these selected people so that I wouldn’t fall victim to isolation.

Doing this completely changed how I opened up to my now husband, Bruce, and long-time friends. I have a place to be open with people, and to struggle without fear of judgment in front of them. I didn’t have to cry alone.

Today, at 26 years old, I am in a healthy place. I have friendships that are now coming up on their 8,9, and 10 year anniversaries. I struggle in front of Bruce and I’m honest when I’m feeling at my lowest.

I don’t hide any more.

And, in doing so, I’m even brighter and happier than I have ever been. It’s beautiful.

I’m telling you this story because, in the midst of this pandemic, many of your happy people can be secretly struggling. I want you to go out there and ask them, again and again and again and again, “are you okay?”

And if you are the happy person reading this then I want you to seek out those people you can trust, and expose how you feel. Let it out. It’s okay to be open and honest about where you are.

Take off that happy façade, that plastered face, and release yourself from the expectation of 24/7 happiness.

Because 24/7 happiness does not exist.

In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

In the end, I’d rather you be here on earth and not in the dirt.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

Dear Dad.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

Was.

The past indicative of “be.”

As of late, I have grown quite ill of this word. I am unable to utter it’s existence in a string of words to form the sentence, “My father w__ an incredible father figure.”

To use it means to give it power and life to the reality that an unforeseeable end has been met.

To let it pass my lips means to agree that the life of a man well-loved will no longer appear in the formation of new memories.

The weight of “was” is unbearably deafening.

I’d rather swallow a stone, for it already feels as such to let the word sit on my tongue.

Truth be told – there is no such thing as “was.”

Although someone may no longer be present in their flesh and bone their essence still rest within us. They are not lost, for they become amplified within our memory.

We finally see who they always are. There is no “was,” but always will be.

Jennie L. R. Hayes

Despite the challenges faced by my family, and the many hardships we have endured due my to dad’s insufferable disease of alcohol addiction – I am unable to recover a single bad memory.

When I look back over the last 7 years of hospital visitations (or just 26 years of being a daughter) all I can muster to my frontal lobe are the conversations, the laughter, the hugs, the birthdays, the father’s days, the summer days, the holidays, and all the beautiful days in between.

Hardship allows for us to draw closer to the familial ties that bond us – if we allow it.

Hardship can easily cause a blackened stain of regret – a disease of unwavering rage and hatred toward the last few years of a person’s physical existence. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because, I want to stay in the “is” and not the “was.”

We have to remember the beauty of recognizing the core of someone’s “is.” Not the result of hardship and pain. What do we remember as the core of the person we love? What defines them and makes them who they are?

Who really “is” this person?

Who my dad naturally is, is amplified in my mind. He is not lost and he does not lose the qualities that define him.

He IS what I see.

He IS what I feel.

He IS my dad and that does not change. Therefore, “was” is not a word to be used.

Because now, he is solidified in existence as the man I will never forget – forever etched in my memory.

No one has to tell me, or remind me, that my dad w__ a good man.

My dad IS a good man.

And I will always love him.

Dear Dad,

I love you. I hate to say this, but i’m selfish. If I had a magic lamp I would wish you back into existence. But, not the shell you were living in.

I know you were in pain. I know you were suffering. I wish I could have taken it away. But, please know, I never saw you as weak. I never saw you as “less than.” I never looked at you differently because of your struggle.

I saw you. All of you. The whole you. The beautiful you.

We all did.

My love for you is blinding. I did not see you in your hospital bed. I did not see your drunken days. I did not see your broken and cracked skin. I saw your struggle. I saw your pain. I saw your misery. I saw how much you desperately wanted to alter the reality you lived in, but had to hide the pain behind the treacherous golden waterfall.

I was never afraid to touch you. I always wanted to be close to you. I never let go. I still can’t and I won’t.

I’m not Rose. If the ship were to sink then my grip only tightened. Although you saw some distance between us I can promise you that I lived on a life boat ready to paddle back to you whenever you needed me.

My love for you is stronger than it ever has been, and it will only grow stronger as I tell our stories to the grandchildren you so desperately wanted.

The memory of you will never fade. You have left yourself, in pieces, among us as details of the lineage we will carry forward.

I see you in Sarah’s eyes – deep green and wide.

I see you in Kellie’s personality – temper and all.

I see you on the surface of the lake – your presence thick as our nostrils breathe in sunlight, air, and peace that only the calmness of a still lake can bring.

I see you in the gardens you have planted in the back yard. The love you had for farming and growing your own food sparked a new passion inside me.

I smell you at every mechanic shop – grease, motor oil, and dirt. It smells like you – an honest, humbling, and laborious earning.

I hear you through the lips of friends and strangers who share the memories of you. I learn more and more about you through people I have never met. And, I love it.

Regardless of where we are today, I am surprised by the community you had that you may not have realized. It’s so big. You were so loved. You had so many in your corner. You still do.

And, we love you. We can’t wait to see you again.

My greatest lesson from this experience is this:

I understand it now. When I was young I never understood why people thought living to 100 was so bad. I thought, “Man, life is beautiful, I want to live to 120! I want to live the longest.”

I now disagree.

Life is made up of the people you call home – people you love and cherish. As they slowly pass on, and into heaven, you wish to be with them. It’s difficult to replace those relationships (you can’t), and their loss leaves a longing in you to see them again.

When my time comes I want to be able to run to Christ, run to YOU, run to Memaw, and run to Pappy. To move on and see them again. Life on earth is not to be lived out for lengthy periods of time. The pain of loss is too much to bear, and the need to reunite grows stronger with every passing day.

I am so happy you finally get to see your mom again. I am so happy that you finally get to meet your dad. I am so happy you finally get to meet our little brother/little sister. I am so happy you get to reunite with your first love that you lost so long ago.

Although my time is not yet here I understand now that I will embrace it. I will happily run to my place in heaven knowing that our family reunion awaits my return.

I will love you forever and always, dad. No one will ever rob me of that.

Love,

Jennie Laureen ROBINSON Hayes

Learn to say “i’m sorry” in your marriage.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

I can be a bit of a prideful person.

Admitting that I am wrong is something I rarely do, and something that I clearly need to work on. I’ve always been the person in my family to argue over the fact that “I am correct” ever since I was small.

If you asked my mom today, she would tell you that I was known to always get the last word. I wanted to feel triumphant because I won the battle. I wanted to speak the last few utterances to prove that I was the ultimate winner.

But man…..what a waste of energy.

If I was arguing with my family I would let an argument continue for hours after it started because I STILL did not get the last word. My whole day would be spent feeling frustrated, getting angrier, and losing patience.

The worst part of it all was that these days almost always coincided with an adventure: swimming at the lake, going to the park, going shopping, etc.

These days were supposed to be fun! Instead, I can only remember arguing.

For example, one time my little sister, Kellie, got on my nerves so much while we were visiting a theme park (Kings Dominion) that I “half-way” punched her in the face. It wasn’t hard. I swung very slowly and tapped her face with my fist. I did that because she wouldn’t be quiet – she wanted to make sure that I didn’t get the last word, and so I tried to shut her up so I could.

I was 12.

How ridiculous I feel telling that story.

It’s a funny memory now because I was a kid who couldn’t control her temper, but I also know that I missed out on the memories I could’ve made if I wasn’t so busy “keeping my pride.”

I mean….what’s pride if you make a fool of yourself, no longer have fun, and miss the opportunity to create memories?

It’s stupid.

Sticking up for your pride is not worth it if all you do is destroy the relationships in front of you.

The same rule applies in marriage. We have to let our pride go.

Being married to someone means you know your spouse in an intimate way. You know their successes, and their downfalls. You know their quirks, and their habits. You know how to love, and how to hate. We even know how to hurt them in an argument.

And what a shame it would be to do that.

We argue because sometimes we are baffled that our spouse thinks we are wrong and say “I can’t believe you aren’t on my side on this – you’re my husband/wife – you’re supposed to be on my side.”

But, it’s not about choosing sides. It’s about growing. At times, my husband will tell me things that I can improve on like: cleaning the dishes, or remembering to switch the laundry from the washer to dryer (which I forget often). He isn’t trying to be mean – he’s trying to make me better. But, my ears can fall short.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

I don’t want to hear it, and my response can be…well….bad. Sometimes, I can respond so bad to correction, or an opinion not similar to mine, that I can get kind of mean. Maybe not in a blunt way, but I don’t act super nice.

Because of how I respond I slowly destroy everything I have built with my husband. I react, rather than wait in patience for the right words to say.

Why am I destroying what I love? Because I care that my pride might be hurt?

Am I married to my pride? No.

I’m married to Bruce.

We all get into arguments. It’s inevitable. Arguing is a part of marriage. The difference between a healthy marriage, and an unhealthy marriage, is how you handle these arguments.

I refuse to go to bed angry. I will muster up all the courage that I have so that I can apologize to my husband for anything I have said or done in an argument EVEN IF I think i’m right.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about choosing who we love most over our own self.

My pride does not matter if I have hurt Bruce. I vowed to love this man with all that I had until the day I died. And, I will.

Regardless of my stance in an argument I will come to my husband and say “i’m sorry.” I will apologize for anything I have said or done, and mean it.

It’s not a ritual. I can’t just say “i’m sorry” and let the day keep going. That doesn’t have meaning. I have to admit that I am wrong, point out why I was wrong, and show him how much I love him when I say “i’m sorry.”

It can be awkward to swallow our pride and apologize, but it’s always worth it in the end.

Choosing our spouse over ourselves will always prove rewarding.

It will deepen your relationship with one another, and build a foundation of trust that cannot be broken. Over time, you will learn to see eye-to-eye and understand the why behind actions, and work through every obstacle you face together.

And that all steams from coming forward, losing your pride, and saying “i’m sorry.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Seeing The Person Behind Your Perception

Lies, Live, Love

Personally, it’s no secret that we all struggle with judging people based on minimal facts, and mostly appearance.

It’s easy for us to put people in our own self-constructed boxes so that we could interpret and understand them, and the world around us, in “black and white.”

It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate student, studying Interpersonal Communication, at Meredith College for me to realize what I was doing (and that was 5 years ago, geez)!!

You know…I grew up a certain way. I knew the world through the eyes of my parents for the first few years of my life, and interpreted the world as I experienced it.

Growing up, as we try to understand the world we live in, we take what people say about others to heart. It’s a “survival method.” We don’t want to instinctively put ourselves in harms way so we listen to others words as truth to protect and ready ourselves for the future.

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

This is also where the media comes in whether it be social media, television, movies, books, news media, etc. We grow up watching, and reading, content and absorbing what is being presented to us in order to understand the world.

In time, we inherently believe it to be true, and it eventually becomes an instinctive judgment of the people we meet.

New people are pre-judged by what we have learned so far in our life. It’s sad to think that way, but is also helps us understand how far we still have to go in each of our own societies.

Questions we should be asking:

  1. How are all people presented in the content that is consumed by a majority of the public?
  2. What roles are they playing, and how are they interpreted based on our societies standards?
  3. In each of these roles, how are they economically presented?
  4. What is currently unbalanced in the media we consume today? Are there roles that are continuously given to certain sexes, races or identities?

Each of these questions are starter questions we should be asking ourselves as we consume content so we can recognize where our perceptions of the world come from.

We need to know the basis of our perceptions so we can see the person that exists behind our perception.

Understand this….if we are never introduced to new people, or experiences, we end up getting trapped in our own worlds, our own interpretations, and continue to put people in our self-constructed boxes without seeing them for who they truly are.

People are beautiful, and there is always something we can learn from each individual that we meet.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

And let me tell you something…I notice myself accidentally making a judgment on someone all the time: someone I have never even met, someone I have never sat down with to hear their story, someone I pass by on the street, someone I see in the store, someone I drive by on the road, etc.

I don’t ever want to be the person who never grows past my own perceptions. I want to understand people. I want to love them for who they are, and everything that makes them, them.

I know who I am, and I would want other people to take the time to get to know me.

What about you? Wouldn’t you feel the same way?

I hope, from now on, you take the time to realize where your perceptions may be rooted, and work past them so that you can see the real person that exists behind them.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

In Marriage – Don’t Build a Fence Over the Small Things.

Love

Being married is one of the best things I have ever committed to. It’s also one of the hardest things I have ever committed to, and I truly mean that.

I dated my handsome hubby for 9 years before we tied the knot. We had so many necessary conversations to prepare us for marriage like: setting boundaries, financial discussions, raising-a-family, etc.

We were ready (and all those talks paid off, phew)! But, there was one thing no married couple could truly explain to us until we experienced it ourselves.

Loving someone so much, but also being so irritated at them all at the same time.

I love my husband, and I will love him until I take my last breath.

I will fight for my husband, and do my best to honor him in all the ways that I can.

I am fiercely committed to our relationship!

But.

But.

But.

I was not prepared for the internal fences I would easily put up after 6 to 7 months of marriage.

You see…he has a really bad habit of leaving his hats around the house. (And I have a super bad habit about leaving my cups around the house – ever since I was a kid – so I am no saint).

Exhibit A.

Some days, when I get home after a long day of work and I see a hat lying randomly in the living room, I come undone (it’s okay to call me insane).

Sometimes I have to take a breather because I will let that one little thing eat at me. Then, when I see my husband, I let that irritation build into a pile of frustration because I point out other things: the dishes in the sink, the clothes on the bedroom floor, or the blankets that aren’t folded.

I would get so worked up. In my head i’m like “I can’t believe that he can’t just pick up his hats – I mean…they are hats….just put them away!

But.

But.

But.

After some much needed self-reflection, I realized that I really am being ridiculous. Why am I forgetting all the beautiful and wonderful things about my husband that make him who he is over some hats – HATS!!!

Why am I getting so worked up, and amounting everything I know about my husband, over his inability to put away a hat.

My husband is so much more than someone “who can’t put away a hat.”

He is literally my prince in shining armor who loves me unconditionally!

  1. One time, I had a super bad tummy ache and he got me medicine and a heating pad, and let me rest in the bed until my tummy was better.
  2. Or, the time he brought home flowers that made our house smell and look amazing.
  3. Or, the time he came home and randomly danced with me in the kitchen (that’s my favorite).

There are a million little things that make me fall in love with him more and more each day.

But, if I don’t keep myself in check, then I will eventually only remember those small things that irritate me (that shouldn’t irritate me), and forget all the other small things that make him who he is – the reason I married him.

I also have to remember that I could be a total irritation too. I am not perfect! For instance:

  1. I leave cups all over the house.
  2. I open a can of drink, take a sip, and put it back in the fridge.
  3. I hate cleaning the bath tub (now…he is a saint for taking care of this).
  4. One time, I left a compost bucket outside for 2 months, because I forgot about it, and it smelled like straight butt when it finally got warm. But, Bruce took care of it for me (again, he is the saint in this house!!).

So, you see, we both have things to work on!

I just have to remember that he is more than the little things that irritate me. He is my husband that I have vowed to love and to cherish. I can’t cherish him if I build a wall of irritation over some hats.

I have to talk to him, love him, and continually remember why I choose him before I ever lose focus because of the little things that frustrate me. I also have to remember that I am no where near perfect, and I have things to work on too.

Our marriage is more important to me than a bunch of hats around the house.

Because one day, if something were to ever happen, I would miss picking up each hat every day and taking it upstairs to his side of this closet. ❤

Love is about having continual conversations, and developing deeper bonds with one another by looking past the small things that really don’t matter.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Your Value Minus Your Screen

Live

You know what’s easy?

Sitting at home feeling motivated and encouraged by a few short videos, Instagram stories, and books.

And, for those few short seconds of reading or watching I feel uplifted, and I find a sense of motivation and self-worth.

But, that’s also the problem.

I could sit at home all day, much like every one does now-a-days, and just “scroll.” I could fill my head with whatever I wanted to feel “full,” to feel “loved,” to feel “distracted from the pain,” or to simply “feel something.”

We should be better than that.

We should know ourselves better than that.

When was the last time you stopped filling your head with the thoughts of others, sat down in a peaceful and distraction free space, to reflect on yourself? To ask yourself questions:

  1. Where am I right now?
  2. How do I feel right now?
  3. What’s important to me right now?
  4. Who do I love right now?
  5. Who am I right now?

We should believe in ourselves enough to take the time to self-discover, and believe in our own value.

We are valuable. You are valuable. I am valuable.

I can’t sit around all day long scrolling through endless pages of tik-toks, YouTube videos, newspapers articles, and google searches. Doing so only distracts me from taking the time for myself.

I deserve to know who I am and be confident in who I am.

You deserve to self-reflect on who you are without a million other people coming across your screen deciding for you. Sure, it’s okay to take in content and reflect on the words of others.

What is not okay is to be wholly distracted by them that you no longer know who you are. You simply become a product of the culture you consume.

The beauty of being a writer is this – I consistently take the time to pan out my own thoughts, to self-discover, and to get my feelings and emotions out on paper. I wish the same for many of you who may be struggling to find your own inner peace, and to truly understand that it is you who knows your own value.

Believe in who you are now, and who you will become. But, doing so will require you to sacrifice the time you spend on a screen, and to reflect on your own thoughts.

Put the phone down and ask yourself this: who am I right now in this moment?

Don’t think of the last video you watched, or anything you have consumed via a screen. Have your own thoughts.

Who. Are. You. Right. Now?

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Being Okay With Changing Friendships.

Lead, Love

Friendships evolve.

And that’s okay.

You know…everyone has a certain tolerance for change. Some people have a high tolerance for change while others have a low tolerance for change.

Regardless of that tolerance one thing is true – everyone is not 100% okay with all of the changes that happen in their life.

And most people are not comfortable with changing friendships.

I am one of those people.

I consider myself more inclined to develop interpersonal relationships via one-on-one interactions. I can be just about anyone’s friend, and be a part of the “crowd hype” at gatherings, but I cling to those friendships that are intentional because it requires sacrifice, commitment, and trust.

I will admit that it is hard for me to adjust to people who change, and to people who especially change their mind about the relationship we have.

But, over the last year, and being married to the most handsome and amazing man I have ever met, I have noticed that my current relationships have changed. They’ve changed quite a lot.

I’ve noticed that some friends have started pulling themselves away. I’ve noticed that some friends personalities have changed. I’ve noticed that I’ve developed new friendships and have grown deeper relationships with those who choose to stay.

People grow. People change. People don’t remain the same.

I’ve come to terms with it. As we all gain life experience, and overcome new challenges we are faced with, we will all eventually bring new perspectives, values, opinions, and beliefs to the table.

Because of that, not everyone in our current circle will be okay with the changes. Those who grow with you will stay while others who no longer wish to take part will fade away.

It’s a part of the process of growing up, and you never stop growing up.

I want you to know, just like I have come to know, that it is okay for your friendships to change. This means accepting your current friends for who they have grown into, or saying good bye to those who want to leave (even if they leave silently – you’ll notice – I promise).

The people who work just as hard as you in keeping your friendship alive are those you fight for. Don’t be worn down or weary by those who choose to walk away. It’s okay. They may not be meant for you in this season.

And, if you have friends who have changed because of things they have experienced then sit down and listen. Try to understand where they are coming from, and gain a new perspective on life. That’s how we all grow.

And, if you have developed some new friendships in this season then take the time to grow some roots. It’s okay to invest in new people (albeit a little scary), but they could be who you need right now.

Although change can be uncomfortable it can mostly be beneficial into growing us in to the women we are meant to become.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

We are all doing life together. It’s truly a forest.

It’s full of twists and turns, dry seasons and wet seasons, good growth and bad growth, and most of all, people who help root us despite the ever changing climate.

There will be shallow planted people, and deep-rooted people you will encounter in life.

Take it in stride, grow from every encounter, and allow things to fall into place.

.

.

The last thing you want to do is to stay stuck in the “I wish things never changed.” Doing so will rob you the opportunity to truly connect with the people around you, and who are with you, right now.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

What’s Your Motive?

Lead
Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

It’s been quite some time since I have sat down and typed a few words, and I mean that in a poetic and artistic way. Honestly, I didn’t know how much my heart ached to get back to the rhythm of writing again until I found myself longing for purpose. For awhile, I was so consumed by my work that I forgot what brought me joy. So much so that I started to question every motive behind my every action.

Why am I doing this?

Do I find joy in what I do?

Do I care about what I’m creating?

How do I feel?

In all honestly, I had gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of “get it done” culture.

I would strive to be the best at what I was doing in the moment even if I didn’t care about what I was actually doing.

Having an attitude like that can truly cause you to lose yourself, and what you love.

I love writing. I love letting my voice flow out in words and my thoughts string together in a few sentences to iterate what my speech fails to express in the moment.

I stutter when it comes to “on-demand” talking. I meticously plan out what I want to say to ensure it’s intentional. This is why I started “JennieLaureen.” It’s a blog with what I want to say. A blog with my emotions, and my thoughts, and my opinions.

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash

If other’s enjoy the writing I produce then we can connect as honest human beings – raw and exposed, honest and kind, and altogether lovely as our words bring us together.

So, this post is basically me admitting that I started opening my eyes again. I started peeling back the layers I was hiding beneath to expose what I truly care about. It’s not just writing – it’s about the connection I make with people.

And as I started writing again I found myself with that incredible feeling of bubbling joy in the pit of my stomach as it grew into a warm embrace enveloping every inch of me. I found happiness in the gift God had so graciously given me.

It’s me choosing me again.

I shouldn’t have let others dictate what my motive should be because I know me best. I know others can voice where they see me in 10 years, and the paths I should take to get to the top, but at 25 years old all I truly care about is getting lost in something I love. It’s weary on the soul, mind, body, and spirit to chase after other’s approvals.

All I want in life is to find myself sinking deeper into the talents I have, and hear my own voice having a conversation with Christ about my own future. I want to filter out the noise of other’s voices so I can truly listen to the motive that my own soul speaks.

Joy is found there.

What is your motive?

Why are you doing this?

Do you find joy in what you do?

Do you care about what you’re creating?

How do you feel?

It’s time to question the realities you exist in so that you can find that bubbling joy in the pit of your stomach as it grows into an enveloping warmth that hugs you. Because you know it’s what you are meant to be doing.

Marriage + Sex.

Lead

Precursor: If this article makes you squirm then please stop reading. I write to help women (or men, if this is a topic you can relate to) in shoes similar to mine. If this bothers you then please know that this article wasn’t meant for you. ❤

Okay, so this article took a lot for me to write. I was straight crying while trying to form the words I needed to say. Words that I needed to express out loud because I knew they were important to me, but also because I learned an internal lesson that I wanted to share.

Sharing about sex can be….awkward…but I don’t personally care because it shouldn’t be a topic that I should not feel comfortable talking about or expressing myself on. I mean…I am married…and I CAN have sex (great sex)…so let’s talk about it.

I think most people probably remember my “Sex is Bad” article (click here). It was an article written from an internal struggle I had faced about sex.

You see…I had remained a virgin for so long because I wanted to give that to my future husband. And my husband was patient, even after 9 years of dating. He honored my decision. Now…don’t get me wrong! We struggled and had several arguments over the “waiting game” because it got harder the longer we waited for physical intimacy. But, he still did his best to honor it.

Well, it’s now August 2019 and my husband and I are 2 months into our marriage. We are fresh off the aisle! And, let me tell you something, I was so excited to go to bed the night of our wedding. I was ready to end the reception early because “I was tired.”

I totally wasn’t.

The first few weeks of marriage were blissful. I was the happiest I had ever been. It was magnificent, beautiful, and life was fun with the added extra activity!

Then, about a month later, it started looking different. And I am not talking about the general wonderfulness part of marriage. Marriage is so fantastic – I LOVE coming home to my husband: cooking together, cuddling together, working out together, and just being together! I’m actually referencing the sex part of marriage.

After about a month I had started to develop insecurities about myself during sex.

I stopped pursuing my husband because I didn’t feel beautiful any more. I started noticing the extra cushion on my tummy and arms, and all I wanted to do was hide it. Turn the lights off, stay under the covers, shove his arm here so he doesn’t put his arm at the place i’m trying to hide.

I started staying in my head and focusing on hiding myself during sex that I couldn’t enjoy sex like I did before. And because of that it would take me an hour or more to finally peak. THEN THAT STARTED BOTHERING ME, because it bothered my husband – making him feel bad.

It caused me so much anxiety that I was nervous to go home because I thought to myself “well, what if he wanted to have fun tonight? I don’t know if I can even perform, and I really don’t want to disappoint him again.” I was pre-framing myself for a bad time.

Guys…I even looked forward to my period because I knew I could go to bed knowing sex wasn’t going to happen, and I could just relax with my husband.

But I knew, and felt, like I was seriously disappointing him. So, I tried to make up for it by doing things around the house, doing more work, finding an amazing job, and providing as best as I could just so I could impress him and make him happy again.

And that even crushed me. Because if I did something wrong, and he wasn’t happy, I really took it to heart because I was trying. I was trying so hard, and it made me feel like I was failing in every aspect of my life.

My literal internal thought was “I suck at sex, I suck at providing, I suck at making my husband happy. I can’t do anything. He could easily find someone better – i’m not worth it.”

I have heard so many stories from women who face the same problem. I never thought once I would be in their shoes, and yet, here I am. It’s an actual issue that women face. And, yes, the crazy thoughts come that are so irrational you believe you are crazy for having them. They just aren’t voiced aloud.

I know you have them…even if you don’t want to admit it. I’m only admitting it because you aren’t the only one.

Regardless…today is different.

Today, I am writing this article because I realize how ridiculous all of that stuff above sounds. It’s insane for me to think that I am “less than” because I decided (all by myself) that I was an awful person – and it all came from a simple insecurity during sex.

And I am not saying it’s all butterflies and dandelions now. This is a process. I have to love myself, and support myself, by talking to Christ and thinking positive thoughts throughout the day.

I have to love every aspect of myself when I am exposed to the person I trust the most, and continue to remind myself of that every day. I can trust and be exposed to my husband with no judgment from him.

Because the bottom line is this………………….he loves me.

If I am not comfortable with someone I wholly trust then how can I ever be 100% comfortable with my other friendships, and develop those lasting bonds we all so desperately need in life?

Today, I will love myself. Today, I will ask for what I want and pre-frame tonight as a night to have a good time. He doesn’t care that I have a little extra cushion. Instead of me looking at it like “it’s a bad thing to have” I should reinforce positive thoughts and say “well…it’s something for him to grab.”

Sex is beautiful. Just as God created it to be. I am beautiful because I am the daughter of a king.

It’s MY job to pre-frame sex the way it was meant to be. it’s MY job to enforce positive thoughts into my life. It’s MY job to see myself as a beautiful daughter of the king.

It’s MY job to enjoy sex and be with my husband IN the moment and NOT in my head.

I waited too long for me to go through this. Today – this stops. It may take me a little while to be 100% there and okay, but I am going to get there.

All day today I have been reinforcing positive thinking. Reading scripture on how I was wonderfully and beautifully made. I have been pre-framing all day.

You should do the same.

Because of that……I literally cannot wait to get home to my husband. ❤

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Success is not defined by your career.

Lies, Live

I have always been someone motivated and driven by my career results. I love the idea of working. I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I love it. 

Nothing wrong with being a working woman. I’m very passionate about what I do.

However, there are times when my career doesn’t always go the way that I plan it to. Which isn’t a bad thing. We should always look for the learning opportunity where we are currently planted. 

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated by my career outcomes. 

three women sitting beside table

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Success was once always defined by how well I performed at my job (or at school when that was applicable). If I was excelling and getting good remarks from my managers then I knew I was successful. Or, if I was handed a big project because there was so much trust for me to handle it, then I knew I was successful. Or, if I was consistently making A+ grades in all of my classes, then I knew I was successful. 

But what about the times when life kicks you? When you realize that you aren’t performing at 1000% all the time. Let’s face it….you can’t run at 1000% 100% of the time. It’s exhausting and burn-out happens.

I’m not saying you should be lazy at your job – always give your full effort and attention – but what happens when we define our success in the moments where we can’t give 1000% because…..

  • You are facing a family tragedy. 
  • You are struggling financially to pay your mortgage. 
  • Your credit card bill keeps rising instead of shrinking 
  • You just found out some terrible medical news. 
  • You start doubting your ability to be a good wife (or husband). 
  • Your kids aren’t living the life you taught them and are instead running away from it. 
  • You doubt your ability to lead because of what everyone is telling you. You let them inside your head. 
  • You are facing depression that you cannot pinpoint, and think it shouldn’t be this way. 
  • Your manager isn’t giving you the opportunities you deserve to show your 1000% dedication. 
  • etc etc etc…. and more.

It’s these small moments that seem to appear like mountains that frustrate our career. And the fact is – it WILL happen. At some point in our lives, one of the scenarios above (or others), will happen in our life.

sleeping woman in train at daytime

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Then we ask the question…am I successful? Turns out, in those moments, we typically say no.

Because our focus has shifted, but our attitude has not. 

Basically, we are kicking our selves while we are already down on the ground. We are allowing ourselves to live a rollercoaster ride. When our career is successful then we are successful, but when our career isn’t successful then we are failures. 

But, there is something we must know. Our attention, in these life moments, will shift from career-mode to survival-mode. Work will still be important to us, but in those moments we are trying to make it through.

Because of this, you may, at times, be distracted at work from these moments. You can’t tell me for those 8 -to 12 hours (shout out to the nurses) that you never once think about what’s going on at home or in your life.

(And this is where I tell managers to allow some grace to their staff who go through these life moments). 

It’s a season. But, in this season we need to REDEFINE success. Especially for us workaholics. 

I cannot allow my definition of success to come from my career. Some of it – sure – but not all of it. I don’t want to stay on that rollercoaster forever.

So, I’ve started making a list of things that I’ve accomplished that are outside of my career/school achievements. And, to be honest, life got a lot brighter because of it. 

Some of the items on my list include: 

  • I call my parents every day because I don’t live in the same town as them. I am proud of the relationship I have with them. I don’t ever want to get so caught up in life that I forget my rock – my family. One day they will pass away – I don’t want to regret “not pouring into” that relationship for the sake of my career focus. 
  • I have been dating a wonderful and amazing man for over 8 years and we are about to get married. We have built a beautiful platform for open communication for both the good and bad discussions that I feel like we can lean on for a healthy stable marriage. 
  • I ate well today. I had a full serving of vegetables and lean meats, and some fiber for fullness. I feel good today. 
  • I was able to sleep ALL through the night and get the rest I needed to feel recharged. 
  • I got to do the yoga I wanted to do in order to stretch out my muscles. My body deserved it. 
  • I wrote on my blog today. My outlet for my love of writing. 
  • I got to spend time with my close and personal friends last week and have a thousand laughs – my belly is full of happiness. 

It’s these smaller, more human-like, accomplishments that we should shift our attitude towards. Our focus has shifted from career to life, but our attitude still defines success in a career even when our focus isn’t there anymore. We have to shift both. 

three women sitting by the table having coffee and smiling

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

And even if our career is going well for us how can we ever forget the life accomplishments that we face? 

We don’t live for our careers. It is a large part of our life and should gain our full attention and effort, but I can no longer base HOW I am doing in life FROM my career. There is much more to it than that.

40 hours (the typical work-week) out of 168 hours (a full week) is about 24% of our weekly schedule. 24% of our time is given to our career.

How can we forget about the other 76%? 

Yes, I know that out of that 168 hours roughly 33% is sleeping, but getting a good night’s rest IS an accomplishment because it has to do with our health. And, there is still 43% that still matters. Almost half.

I want you to evaluate your life and measure what matters to you. Make a list. Then detail how you would define success in those areas. 

It’s time we stop putting all of our “success” in our careers and start measuring the other 76%. 

This to do 1. Own today printed frame beside teal headset

Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

Cover Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Dear Beautiful Bride, you do not have to follow all those pesky wedding rules.

Jennie's Snippets, Lies, Live

Let me guess…you are about to get MARRIED? Congratulations! Before I dive in let me first start with this – aren’t you tired of people asking you when the big day is, especially if you are freshly engaged?

LAWD, I can’t tell you how many times people asked Bruce and I. My first response (in my head) was always “dude…I don’t know…I just found out I was getting married! So, I definitely don’t have a date yet.” LOL, It always made me giggle!

And that’s okay that people ask – they are excited FOR you! I mean, it is a natural question to ask when you get engaged. So, just smile and respond, and enjoy the fact that for only 12 months (more or less) people are curious about your wedding! I mean…it only happens once…right? (or we hope it does).

groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Right now, I am a bride myself. And I have learned A LOT. A lot more about myself than anything. You know, my whole life I pictured planning this extravagant wedding (like in the movies), and as soon as I got engaged I quickly discovered that I don’t care about those things.

You see, I am marrying the love of my life. I am a sentimental person. I want things to hold true and lasting value. So, when I do things for the wedding it has NOTHING to do with what other brides typically do. I don’t care about the colors, or the cake, or the music, or even the dang traditions.

This is me and Bruce at our favorite downtown Raleigh coffee shop!
  1. I care that my dad walks me down the aisle (because I wasn’t sure at one point in my life that he would be there for it).
  2. I care that I wear my grandmother’s wedding ring because I always pictured her at my wedding. I NEVER thought she would die before I got married so it’s important that she is there with me somehow.
  3. I care that I wear my mother’s dress (that I have tried on so many times before because it’s beautiful and I want to showcase my mom somehow.
  4. I care that both of my sisters were my “maid of honor” because they have been my rock and consistent friend, when others failed to pull through, my entire life.
  5. I care that I see my handsome (and quite sexy) man at the other end of the aisle because we have spent 8 amazing years together and this is to celebrate US – not to please everyone with an opinion.
  6. I care that my bridesmaids feel beautiful on my wedding day so they got to pick whatever dress they wanted (same color and length because Bruce likes things to go together).
  7. I care that I write my vows and say them to him because he means too much to me to repeat some vows someone else wrote (which BTW isn’t a bad thing – it’s just not my style).

My thing to ask you as you prepare for this big day is – what do you care about?

person tying white ribbon on blonde-haired woman

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

You see, Bruce and I play off each other’s strengths. I LOVE managing my finances. So, the budget for the wedding is my job. Everything else? Well, that’s him. Haha. I am not the least bit creative. I am better at making sure someone else’s dream can come true based on their financial situation. So, Bruce did all of this:

  1. Picked the colors
  2. Picked the decor
  3. Picked out the food
  4. Had a huge hand in picking the venue.
  5. Picked out the outfits.
  6. Picked out the bridesmaids dresses – yep. I was SO scared I was going to get the color wrong that I couldn’t dress shop without him. (phew).

He did those things because he cares about those things! He is “stylistic.” So, that was his job!

white flower lot
Basically, our wedding scheme.
Photo by mariana acevedo on Unsplash

You want to know what we don’t care about?

  1. We don’t care whether we have the wedding in the church or somewhere else. The church is the PEOPLE – not a building. So, we have our ceremony/reception in the same place, and it’s not a church. Plus, it makes it easier on everyone! Does anyone else hate driving to the reception site after the ceremony, or is it just me?
  2. We don’t care about the cake. And we still haven’t figured that part out yet because we don’t want cake. We don’t like sweets so we are kind of lost on that part.
  3. We don’t care about having a D.J. So, we are going to plug in a phone and have a BLAST!!
  4. We don’t care about “save the dates” because it’s such a waste of paper. We are only doing invitations.
  5. And for me – I DON’T care about a veil and will not be wearing one no matter how many people try to pressure me into one ❤

Your wedding should be about you and your husband. No one else. It took me a little while at the beginning, but I finally got it down.

Another one of us. Gosh, isn’t he cute?

One last piece of advise before I go because it became a problem – people inviting themselves.

We have a lot of people who automatically assume they are invited because we have a history with them. But, we have to consider our budget and our venue space. There are so many people that we WISH we could invite, but can’t. Therefore, we are going to have to say no to many many people. Not because we don’t love them or don’t want them there, but we care about our financial future and don’t wish to break the bank trying to please everyone. Our families (which are pretty big) and immediate friends are the only ones invited.

So, enjoy your wedding, break some traditions, and make it something truly yours! ❤

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

When you aren’t where you thought you would be.

Lead, Lies

Complete honesty? I have really struggled with the concept of where I currently am. And this includes everything: my career, my body, my health, my finances, and even my blog.

I have these goals that I LOVE to set, and in my head, I’m like “I am so going to accomplish this.” I have this mentality that whatever I put my mind too will always work out. If I try hard enough and work long enough I will always be successful.

Yeah…I kind of laughed too when I wrote that.

But, the problem isn’t that I’m not competent enough or not working hard enough or working long enough. The problem is that I’m chasing after something that I was never meant to chase after. It’s not my “now calling.”

woman in white elbow-sleeved shirt standing near white train in subway

Just recently I started to figure this out. You’d think I would have sorted this already after following Jesus for like 9 years! (almost double digits!! I could cryyyyy).

Back to the point.

I have been chasing after things that were meant for me in a previous season, and not meant to follow me into my new season.

Let me explain. When I start something I am fully committed. I rarely ever let it go unless I am forced to. Which means my responsibilities pile on top of each other.

I don’t like to let anyone down.

But, let’s be serious. If I really take a deep look at the “why I don’t let go” then my honest answer would be to meet the expectations of those whose opinions matter to me.

Go ahead…shake your head and sigh. I did too when I got to the core of it all. I get it.

And you want to know what made me breathe a sigh of relief? To understand that it’s okay that I am not where I thought I would be?

An open and honest conversation with my fiance.

flat lay photography of man and woman holding hands together

Here is the story. I labeled myself as the breadwinner of our family. I was going to be the main provider, with health insurance, good benefits, and be an amazing wife who could love and care for our children (which I don’t have yet).

So, a long time ago (like 2 years into dating – we are now going on year 9) I thought “okay, I need to get this life-thing right, make no mistakes, and get this adult thing down now so I am better prepared for when I become a grown woman who supports her family. Like I said, I make commitments, and that includes my relationships. (TBH – Bruce is the best decision I have EVER made).

So, I set goals. I said to myself:

  1. My credit score is going to be excellent before I am 23.
  2. I am going to have a dedicated budget that manages all my finances before I graduate undergrad so I can manage our budget.
  3. I am going to get my master’s so I can make more money so I can support our family.
  4. I am going to be debt free before I get married so I don’t burden our cash flow.
  5. I am going to pray every single day because that’s what a good wife would do.
  6. I am going to get super fit so I can be healthy so I can be an example for my kids of how we should care for our bodies (kids that I still don’t have).
  7. I am going to start my/our retirement fund so we can retire early without feeling like we can’t.

And the list can literally go on for hours.

In some places of that list, I am preparing so far into the future that I am rushing the present. I can’t even enjoy my smallest wins today because I’m stuck in the thought pattern of “I’m not where I thought I would be. “

I’m being too harsh to MYSELF. Like, for real?! I suck at congratulating myself because nothing is ever enough. I always try to find faults so I can say “I could have done better.”

So, I had a panic attack. My instinct? I have to call Bruce. I told Bruce (my fiance, if you didn’t catch it) how I was feeling. I told him, “I felt like I was a failure. I really wanted to quit school because I was tired, I wanted to quit my job and do something else because I wasn’t completely happy, I wasn’t giving enough to my eTeam and my eGroup because I’m so wrapped up with work and school, and would rather do church instead of work and school, etc. etc.” And, he asked me why I was feeling that way. I was honest.

Because I need to support us. I can’t drop these things or do something else because I have to support our family.

I had set the expectation, without actually talking to Bruce about it, that I was going to provide us with this comfortable lifestyle that successful adults have because it’s my responsibility to provide.

And all he had to tell me was this, paraphrased here, “yeah, you make a lot more than me, but I don’t care what you make. You don’t have to make that much. Even if you were working at a coffee shop with me I would be happy because I’m spending my life with you; not that you’re making enough for us both. We do this together.”

I know it sounds simple, but his words struck a chord in me. I think God purposely put him in my life at a young age because God knows me very very very well. That I would do this. At this point in my life.

The thing is, there is no goal in life that I should be striving to achieve. For the record, goals are GOOD. I am not saying “ditch the goals.” I’m saying, there is no goal in life that I should be striving for in order to gain the approval of even the most important people in my life. Plus, marriage is an “us” thing – not an “I thing.”

woman making face while holding her brown hair

So…my calling?

Not to set expectations on myself for the approval of someone else, even if they didn’t know I was seeking their approval. Sometimes, we don’t know until we are honest about it and have open conversations.

What season am I in?

Well, in my previous season, I was meant to do really well in school. That was my focus that God asked me to do. It was a blessing from him that I needed to manage. In this season? It’s no longer my focus. I’m in school, yes, but I can’t expect myself to perform at the same level this season as my last season when I have other focuses in my “now calling” like my eGroup and my eTeam at church. Does that mean I flunk school? Nope.

It just means that I do my best, and don’t kill myself striving for a goal (like an A) that I can’t keep up with. I need to focus on my “now calling” (or better yet, responsibilities that God has asked me to manage).

For me:

  1. Getting married. We have a wedding to plan and pay for. That is my current focus.
  2. Caring for my eGroup. We are now multiplying into two teams. It’s time to focus on that growth.
  3. Caring for my eTeam. We are a team full of teenagers. They are like my kids, and they deserve my attention.
  4. Finish the Masters. Not BE THE BEST, just finish the race.

And in all of that, I needed to let go of responsibilities that I shouldn’t carry into this season or put on my plate that’s meant for a later season like “trying to get debt free” or “planning for retirement.” Those things will come, or come again, but for now, I need to balance and focus what I’m supposed to manage today.

woman holding mirror

I can only carry a certain amount of weight. If I try to do it all I WILL fail and then really put on the “I am NOT where I’m supposed to be” pout.

The fact is, I AM where I am supposed to be because I am still chasing after Jesus.

In the cheesiest way possible – it’s God’s perfect timing. Not mine.

As women, we really need to learn when to give ourselves a break, celebrate where we are today, and love ourselves for where God put us and where he is taking us. Understand that where I am at today is okay, and the dream I have for the future will come to pass as long as I have my trust and motivation in the right place.

Celebrate TODAY so I don’t miss the present chasing the future.

Sure, I want a new job. I will look when the wedding is over. I don’t need that added pressure. I have been rushing the wedding process that I prayed for because I’m looking for the promise AFTER the wedding. But, what about the promise of GETTING MARRIED. I’m missing it. I need to love where I am or I’m going to MISS the blessing IN FRONT OF ME.

Sure, I want to quit school. That ends this April. I can’t rush to the celebration because I’m tired of waiting or working. The reward of our labor comes in due time.

Remember this in Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

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2019 Will Disappoint You If You Don’t Prepare For It.

Lies, Live

2018. The year of great struggle. Crazy enough – I felt the exact same way
in 2017. And if I am honest, I felt the same way in 2016, 2015, 2014, etc. I
couldn’t wait for the year to end because the New Year would be a fresh start.

However, many seem to think that celebrating the beginning of a new year will change everything for them. That their life will somehow drastically alter into the dream life they have always imagined.

And every year, hundreds of thousands of people are disappointed at some point within the first few months of the new season.

This isn’t because of failed “New Year Resolutions.” That is only a portion of the problem. 

When people go into the New Year they don’t prepare for the change that is needed to start off a new season on the correct foot.

It’s so much fun celebrating with our friends and family – watching the ball drop and experiencing a parade of fireworks and music. Then we go to sleep waking up to the same world we left in the year prior.

We can create as many New Year Resolutions as we would like, but if we don’t fuel our desire to achieve the changes we wish to see then we will be among the thousands who become disappointed.

Before the close of the year we need to say goodbye to bad relationships
that hold us back and discourage us from doing better and moving forward.

Before the close of the year we need to practice how we think and create
positive thoughts that alter our outlook. The world isn’t going to change – we need to change how we see the world.

Before the close of the year we need to clean out the clutter that exists in
our life: at home, at work, in relationships, with family, etc. Get rid of what you don’t need, apologize and forgive, and drop habits that control you (which take time).

Do you really want to start another New Year prepped for disappointment, or do you really want to see what the New Year has for you?

It’s up to you.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Photo by Zoe Ra on Unsplash

You need to be independent in your romantic relationships.

Love

I’m writing this article from my perspective of being in a long-term relationship, and I didn’t learn this until probably year 4 or 5 of being with Bruce, and we are about to hit year 8 (geez-la-weez). And for the record, year 4 or 5 is when we became adults – 18/19 (I think I was 20) years of age – so this will definitely look different for someone who is starting to date someone in their 20’s!

It is vital that you maintain some level of independence while in a loving and caring relationship with someone. Codependency isn’t healthy. Codependency is, in relative terms, an “addiction to the relationship.” It means that one cannot function, physically or psychologically, without their partner.

It may sound crazy, but it’s similar to being addicted to a substance. Both have psychological effects that make someone dependent on the “item” or “you” to where life cannot continue unless that “item” or “you” is a present and constant force in their life.

And codependency can get a little fuzzy when you first start dating. At the beginning of the relationship that’s all you want. You want to spend every second with this person, text and call them around the clock, and just be with them! And that is OKAY. Because that is the honeymoon stage.

The honeymoon stage is where couples are “ooey-gooey,” “lovey-dovey,” and are, simply put, love struck. You cannot see any wrong in them – they are perfect and with no flaw. You two can conquer the world, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after! This stage doesn’t last long – typically between 3 months to a little less than 1 year.

Once the honeymoon stage is over then you need to observe how you interact in the relationship and how your partner interacts in the relationship. And, there are some signs of codependency that is easy to catch as long as you are looking for them.

1. Your “purpose” in life seems to revolve around your partner which involves making extreme sacrifices to satisfy their needs.

For example, you are about to go on vacation with your family. Your flight leaves the next day. Your partner calls you, crying, because he/she is going to miss you too much for you to go and begs you to stay. Without question, maybe some hesitation, you stay. You don’t go on that trip with your family, but you really should have!

 2. Your emotional involvement in the relationship is quiet because you constantly worry about their opinion. Therefore, when unsatisfied, a conversation is never had because you want to avoid an argument. 

For example, you really want to discuss where you are in the relationship. Maybe you do notice that you need some space, but are too worried that your partner may look at you differently. That he/she may break it off because you aren’t “happy” in the relationship. Because of that you stay quiet and choose not to have that conversation because the relationship matters more than your own emotional well-being. You pretend to be happy.

3. Saying no to your partner doesn’t feel like an option even when it drains you mentally, physically, and financially.

This is a tough one because I have trouble saying no any way due to my personality type because I enjoy helping people. But, we aren’t called to be people-pleasers. God calls us according to his will and his way. Therefore, saying no to something that doesn’t align with his word is VITAL.

Regardless, as an example, when your partner asks you to do something you have trouble saying no because you want to keep the peace and the relationship “stable.” But, let me tell you something, if your relationship is codependent than you are in a very unstable relationship. It’s like losing yourself.

4. Boundaries no longer exist. 

For example, you have a strong faith but somehow this relationship becomes more important than that faith you have. You will try things, do things, and say things with your partner (because they suggest and/or say so) that goes against everything you believe. That line in the sand has been crossed.

5. You, or they, need constant reassurance that your relationship is okay. That you or your partner feel loved, and that others approve of your relationship. 

For example, you have to constantly ask your partner “do you love me?” Or, you have to ask your friends how your relationship looks or if your partner is a good guy/gal to be with. And when they say he/she isn’t good you simply ignore the warning and, again, ask your partner “do you love me?” You aren’t confident in each other’s relationship and you seek approval.

6. Relationships outside of your romantic relationship, including friends and family, become nonexistent. Your partner takes up all of your time. And, when you do finally make time for your friends and family, your partner makes your feel guilty for it. 

This one doesn’t need explaining, but is the most obvious indicator of codependency. Your life revolves solely around your partner and no one else. You become isolated.

Being in a codependent relationship isn’t satisfying – it’s life wrecking. As a person, you have so much potential that you deserve to discover. God doesn’t call us to depend on a partner, but to depend on him. This isn’t a two-way street with just you and your partner. God has to be involved in your relationship. We rely on his strength and his will for our life – not our partners.

Our partners can never give us the right direction for our life. They love you and care for you, but will never know you as intimately as God knows you. Your partner can pray for you and be a sturdy foundation, but cannot control who you are meant to be/become.

If your partner tries to control you and allows you little freedom and no independence then it is most likely time to step away from the relationship.

I am not saying that if and when you show some signs of codependency (every once in a while) that it’s time to end it.

We all have our moments or time-periods where we become a little more dependent on our partner, but that shouldn’t turn into a pattern.

Being independent in a relationship means loving your partner for who they are and encouraging them to seek God and develop a greater faith in him. Don’t control your partner to be who you think they should be – that’s completely against what God asks of us. And don’t allow someone to control you – you deserve better.

Bruce and I love each other. With that comes an understanding that we each have lives. We each have friends that we love and care about. We each have goals that we want to achieve. We support each other in them, but we don’t make decisions based on what the other says nor do we try to control the outcome of each other’s life.

Let’s say it’s a Friday night and I just saw Bruce Thursday night (we went out to dinner or something). I don’t have plans and would love to spend time with him again, but he has a game night planned with a few of his buddies. I will never ask him to cancel those plans to spend time with me. I JUST saw him. He has friends and he deserves to have friends outside of our relationship, because that is what makes a healthy relationship in the first place.

We are two independent people who have decided that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. That doesn’t mean sacrificing everything that we are, want to become, or are meant to be to satisfy the other. We are in mutual agreement with the direction that God has for our lives. We support each other, love each other, push each other to be better than before (towards God), but will never manipulate, control, or force what we think is “right” on each other.

And to get to that spot requires time, trust and patience.

You don’t earn that kind of relationship over night.

You have to face trials, work through the tough times and be willing to discuss difficult questions and face the facts in all of it – BEFORE MARRIAGE. I would hate to enter into marriage with someone that I honestly don’t know at all.

And to be honest,  I wanted to be a married women after year 3, but I am so glad we didn’t because I wasn’t fully confident in us to become a married couple until the end of year 6. We grew up, became adults, and learned to lead independent lives outside of our relationship.

Side note: at year 6 I turned 22 years old. The timeline will look different for you! Please don’t go and wait 6 years to get married because that’s the “right time.” You could get married after year 2 or year 10. You will know when you are in a confident place – I promise.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

 

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24 reasons to love 24!

Live

Okay, so right now I am 23 years old. In less than 2 days I will be 24 years old. I don’t know about you, but I feel like turning 24 is a major life changing moment. I am jittery with excitement at the fact that I am going to be 24 years old!

Because, 24 isn’t 23. At 23, I still feel like I am a kid with no experience – even though that is the farthest from the truth! I mean….I graduated college 3 years ago! But, that perception is still there. 23 still feels so young.

But 24…….I’m a freaking adult!! I feel “grown-up” and I have this “I made it; I survived” attitude. I’m in my mid-twenties!!!

So, as I prepare for the big celebration, because I can be a bit dramatic with celebrations, I have compiled 24 major reasons to love turning and being 24 years of age!

1. You are officially granted the “adult status.” 

Being an adult is actually a lot of fun to me. Sure, I had tons of fun as a teenager, college-kid, and young adult. However, those stages were my growing pains. In all of it I was discovering who I was and I hiccuped a lot in the things I thought I would be. Being an adult comes with it’s responsibilities, and I am PROUD that I have established a work-life balance and can pay my bills without bugging my parents for help!

I am proud that I can make it on my own.  I am my own person who handles all aspects of my life. (Of course with the Lord’s guidance – duh 😉  ). 

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2. You don’t give 2 cents about someone else’s opinion any more. 

As you grow up, you worry SO much, too much, about what everyone else thinks. As a church goer – it’s a lot worse. You pray “Dear God, don’t let me screw up and be “cast out.” But now it’s so different. I am who GOD MADE ME TO BE. I listen to his direction – not someone else’s. There is not one person who knows you better than you and God combined.

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3. You own up to your mistakes.

You no longer want to try to blame someone else for something you obviously did. You have the courage to own up to the things you screw up on, but realize it’s worth it in the end.

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4. Relationships matter so much more. 

As you get older you realize that certain friendships and relationships are worth keeping. Even though you “bicker” and argue your perspective – the real friends of yours honor your point of view rather than tear you down for it. And that my friends is the reason you should keep them. You don’t leave them over petty arguments because you’ve built a foundation with these people – your so called Lifers.

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5. Family becomes your rock. 

In high school, and in college, all you wanted to do was leave your parents and siblings behind. Get out of the house and rule your own world. It’s like turning 18 and thinking “I know everything better than my mom and dad.” Then, you think about it and realize “geez, I guess they were right.”

Your family knows you better than anyone else. And you realize, as grey hairs start to poke out of their scalp, their advice is worth listening too and they deserve your respect and attention.

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6. Parents become your friends – not your enemies. 

It’s finally time to say goodbye to who’s right and who’s wrong. You both come to terms with what each other chooses to believe and love each other for it. Because you’d rather not sacrifice your relationship with them because you “oh so heartedly believe you are correct” like you used to think. The relationship is more important.

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7. You realize who you are and where you are going. 

Some waters you no longer want to test. You have grown out of the “rebellious stage,” have a job and have actual goals you want to pursue. You now pull your pants up and say “I’m going to do them.”

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8. And if you don’t, it’s okay.

Even if you have NO idea what you want to do and where to go – that’s okay! Some of us don’t even figure it out until we are 30 – but that’s the beauty of being an adult, right? We can constantly change who we are going to grow up to be and own up to whatever path we take.

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9. Staying home is like vacation. 

For me this is true. I am so tired after a long day of work and graduate school that the best thing that can happen to me is the opportunity to sleep at home and watch New Girl all day. It’s a treasure I will never ever ever ever take for granted again.

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10.  There are ton of celebrations going on. 

Literally, I have been to a dozen weddings and mid-20 celebrations. It’s like – I have moneyyy to spend because I’m an adult and so the celebrations rock!! No more cheap pizza, but i’ll take a bit of that sushi off your plate 😉

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11. You realize you don’t have to say yes to everything. 

At this point in your life you have figured out that your time is limited too. You have nothing to prove to any one and you don’t want to sacrifice your sleep. You learn to say yes to important things and no to others that don’t matter to you.

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12. Your health starts to really matter. 

You don’t complain about the kind of food you eat. In fact, you start to really enjoy the fact that you are taking care of yourself. You don’t care about soda or chips any more or binging on anything bad for you. In fact, you start to care about your health and whether or not you are doing yourself a service by eating that donut.

13. You realize that things you did as a kid were not as crazy as what kids are doing today. 

Honestly, I really thought that some of the things I did as a kid like sniffing the Mr. Sketch scented markers because..well..they smelled awesome. At least I am not trying to eat a Tide Pod. Like…what? You realize you turned out okay and hopefully those younger than you will too!

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14. You are old enough to appreciate technology and use it excellently, but you aren’t completely absorbed by it. You know how to put the phone down. 

Technology has come a long way. I remember my very first fat flip phone in 7th grade. It was the best thing ever. I even remember by first iPhone 4 in high school. The world changed for me. But, at 24 – I have priorities and that doesn’t involve my face on a screen 24/7.

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15. Judging people are a thing of the past. 

You just get over feeling the need to criticize someone for who they are, the life they choose, and the lifestyle they lead. It’s just not up to you to change them even if you realize that they could be better. You realize you really aren’t in control – God is. Your job is to just love and everybody and guide as best as you can.

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16. Forgiveness is a big deal. 

You want to be forgiven just as much as the next person does. You realize you have seriously hurt people and you don’t want them to hold a grudge against you. You want to be forgiven, and also want to show forgiveness to others because you get it.

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17. Forgiveness isn’t an excuse to get walked all over. 

You also realize that forgiveness is for yourself too. You let go of the pain that someone caused, but you also create some distance. Trust is gained in drips and lost in buckets. You realize that it’s okay to forgive, but that doesn’t mean to let your heart get ripped a part over and over again. You realize you have to protect yourself too!

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18. You are valuable no matter what anyone else thinks. 

You realize you are an asset to the world. Like I said at #1 – you don’t give 2 cents about any one else’s opinion. You realize your worth and the ones you care about will see it too.

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19. Good things take time. 

You realize that there is no such thing as a quick fix. If something is going to be good and long lasting (especially in relationships) it takes time and effort. You have to build it from the ground up. In high school (and college) people are looking for relationships and will sometimes sacrifice meaningful conversation and relational building with chatty talk just to be with someone. Well…I’m not wasting my time anymore and will only pour into those relationships that matter.

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20. New things are worth experiencing. 

Now that I have the money to travel I can’t wait to see what the world offers. I don’t say no to life experiences because of fear. I only say no to things that don’t matter (like going to a late-night party because sleep matters to me lol. I say yes to things that develop me as a person and opens my eyes to what the world is really like – the good and the bad. I don’t want to be ignorant – I want to be open.

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21. Settling isn’t an option. 

You realize that you won’t settle for less than your worth. I won’t stay friends with someone who doesn’t care. I won’t stay at a job that I hate. I won’t settle for something less when I know, and feel, that something even better is around the corner.

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22. You don’t have to be in control all the time. 

You don’t have to have your hands all in the pot all the time. Not everything will always go as planned and I realize that I don’t need to freak out about it all the time. If it goes a different direction then I learn from it rather than freak about it.

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23. You realize the importance of self-development. 

School didn’t stop when I graduated college. There is more to learn that college never taught me. You realize, out of everything, the importance of continually developing who you are and generating new skill sets that enhance yourself as a person and employee. It also keeps your brain active!

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24. My relationship with Christ matters more to me than any one human being. 

I’m a Jesus Freak. You know that! And at this point in my life I just don’t care for other people to deter me from my real love and passion which is following Christ. At this point, I don’t want to let him go and I don’t want any one stopping me from reaching him. And if they do -they probably aren’t worth keeping.

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I honestly cannot wait to turn 24!

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash